Disabled postgraduate researchers

Whether you need information about disclosure, funding, or the transfer and viva process, our Disability Team can support you. 

Why disclose your disability?

Disclosing your disability to the university is a positive, proactive step. It means that we can offer you specific support for your academic studies to help you reach your full potential. It will also give you access to specialist guidance through Disability Services.  

How and when to disclose

You only need to disclose to the University once. Any personal information relating to your disability will be kept confidential and will be shared on a "need to know" basis only with those people directly responsible for teaching, supervising or supporting you. 

There are two opportunities to disclose before you start on your course: 

  1. On your application form 
  2. During the online registration process 

You can also disclose at any time during your studies by contacting us in Disability Service on disability@leeds.ac.uk 

Returning to Leeds after undergraduate study

If you undertook your undergraduate study at Leeds and disclosed at that time, you will need to inform us that you have returned for postgraduate study. 

What next? 

  • If you disclosed a disability at the point of application, Disability Services will contact you via email before your arrival.  
  • We will send you information about the support you may be entitled to and the sources of funding for that support.  
  • You will be assigned a named Disability Coordinator who will coordinate your academic support requirements throughout your time at Leeds, in consultation with you and your academic department. 

Disability funding

As a disabled postgraduate researcher you may be entitled to receive additional disability funding from your funding body or research council.

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) is government-funded financial support which pays for specialist equipment and one to one support. It is non-means tested and you do not need to repay it. You can also keep any equipment purchased via DSA once your course has finished.  

You can apply for DSA at any time and do not need to wait for a confirmed place. The process can take at least three months between application and final award so it’s a good idea to apply early. 

You are eligible for DSA if you are

  • A UK student
  • Doing postgraduate course (including a distance-learning course) that is: 
  1. full time and lasts at least one year 
  2. part time and does not take more than four times as long to complete as an equivalent full-time course. 

If you are funded by a research council:

  • You are not eligible for DSA if you are being funded by a research council. You should contact your research council to enquire about disability funding from them.

If you are funded by an NHS bursary or on a social work course:

  • You are not eligible for DSA if you are funded by the NHS and should apply for additonal disability funding from them.

Other funding sources

If you are not eligible for DSA and are not funded by the NHS or a Research Council, and you do not have access to any other disability support funding, the University will meet your disability-related academic support costs through the Disability Support Fund. Please contact us to discuss this on disability@leeds.ac.uk  


Please vist our funding pages for more information.


Support available

Visit our dedicated pages to find out more about the support available to you.

Support for the viva and transfer process

Recommendations for adjustment during the viva are made on a case-by-case basis with you and your academic department. There are some adjustments which can be put in place without needing to discuss this further with Disability Services. Instead, you can discuss these with your supervisor and/or your school’s Disability Contact.  

Examples of these adjustments include: 

  • Wherever possible, assessors/examiners should use succinct questions and avoid the use of multi-part questions. 
  • Thinking time before answering questions 
  • Asking for a question to be repeated/re-phrased or requesting clarification 
  • Being able to consult your own copy of the thesis/submission 
  • Breaks during the viva 
  • Optional rest breaks pre-scheduled at e.g. x minute intervals and/or the opportunity to request breaks 
  • Advance briefing for the Panel/Examiners on the particular nature of the disability (for example to explain communication and thinking style) 
  • The student providing a presentation to the panel/examiners at the start or end of the viva 
  • Particular room requirements e.g. accessible room, lighting, seating & furniture arrangements 
  • Providing materials in alternative formats 
  • The student being afforded (reasonable) time to write down questions posed by the panel/examiners 
  • The use of a British Sign Language interpreter 

There are some adjustments which require further discussion with your school and the Doctoral College. These might include: 

  • Presence of a supporter/support worker/note taker at a viva 
  • Presence of a Specialist Mentor to assist communication at a viva 
  • Use of assistive technology in the viva 
  • An extension to the deadline for submission of the transfer report or thesis 
  • An extension to the period for corrections (after the viva) where the thesis has been recommended for award of the degree subject to minor corrections. You and your department are encouraged to contact  Disability Services at the earliest opportunity as it can take many months to put this in place.